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  • Writer's pictureDan Abbott

The Philippines

From the 10th - 25th November I worked as underwater and aerial camera operator in the Philippines for a travel channel. Here is how the filming went...

7 Provinces in 15 daysOne thing that is for certain when you have the tourism board co ordinating your trip, is that you will be warmly welcomed everywhere you go. Not just people to greet you, but we had lanyards, necklaces, banners, photographers and bands waiting to meet us as we arrived in each province.


The first proper filming day underwater was on day 3, on a trip to Oslob on the island of Cebu.

Oslob is becoming well known for it's whale shark encounters.

It was fairly easy to get good shots of these large sharks, mainly due to the fact the operators feed the sharks to ensure the encounter is successful, as a result large numbers of sharks now often stick around in the prospect of a free meal. My challenge as the underwater guy, was to ensure we remained a safe distance from the feeding sharks, and to make sure the two presenters (Mel & Liu) could be seen in the shots. Around 50% of my footage features just sharks, as there were two other cameramen in the water using GoPros to capture the presenters audio, which allowed me to focus on getting good footage of the sharks. I could clearly see these large ladies observing me as I filmed alongside. A wonderful animal, and I nice moment for me as I ticked off shark species number 17 off my list.


One of the most water filled days was a trip to the stunning Apo Island. We spent many hours here snorkelling, and filming the local marine life. One of which was the mesmerising sea krait, a member of the sea snake family.

There were also many green turtle encounters, where they seemed fairly used to seeing divers, which allowed some great moments of getting alongside, and framing a nice shot with presenters close by.

The challenge of filming with other people in the water (other crew/guides/divers & other tourists) is trying to create the feeling of intimacy with the animal, so that it doesn't look surrounded.

This is where being quite nimble and mobile in the water can pay off, as it allows you to get into positions quickly, and without disturbing the animals swimming pattern. There were occasions that I felt we were crowding the animal too much, and cancelled the shot to give the turtle space. Overall I am happy with the results, and the low impact we had on the animals there


It was also great to be able to witness some of the traditional performances, including a spectacular fire and drum show, which I captured at 180fps.

All in all a great filming experience in a stunning country.

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